This booklet is a concise, yet thorough overview of how to get started writing. Aspiring authors will appreciate Downing's acute approach to the writing process. As a science geek, he explores the writing process using the analogy of farming and plant growth. From the "seed," or idea behind the piece, to the Mega Farmers, or book series writers, there is something for every writer in this easy-read booklet. Downing discusses what to do and not do when developing ideas into pieces and gives helpful tips to make the writing journey that much smoother. Each chapter is concluded with "takeaways" which are helpful when trying to go back and find the key points that you were hoping to focus on. This is a perfect little booklet that all writers could use in their library.

Kayla (on Amazon)


In his booklet “Idea Farming,” C. R. Downing underscores the pivotal truth that good writing begins in the mind.  Before a pen hits the page, before a page hits the publisher, every story is rooted in an idea – and different stories, like different plants, require unique conceptual seeds.  By offering suggestions for where to find ideas and for how to best develop them, “Idea Farming” serves as an introductory guide for writers on the cusp of launching a new creative endeavor.

A Mizel - English Teacher


Review of

Idea Farming - A Science Guy's Read on Writing

by C. R. Downing


C. R. Downing’s booklet Idea Farming (A Science Guy’s Read In Writing, Volume 1) is the perfect introduction of the nuts and bolts of starting a short story, novella or novel. Downing utilizes his teaching experience and award-winning book series, Traveler’s Hot L, as examples on how to author stories.


Being primarily a poet, I found attempts to branch out and write longer prose that involved my readers having to turn pages, slightly daunting.  However, reading Dr. Downing’s Idea Farming, which uses the metaphor of writing with gardening, defined the process so that even a city gal like me could understand and easily utilize his method.


For example, he explains to successfully grow plants, The LAW is needed (ample Light, Air and Water); to write a story the following is needed:  believable characters, reasonable plot points, and realistic dialog (BC, RPP, RD). He then breaks down each of those points i.e.: fertilizing (right amount of Phosphate=needed for root health, aka moments in the story where plot shines brightly, or nitrogen=capturing energy stored for photosynthesis, aka believability in every aspect of the plot).


Dr. Downing outlines the differences between short story, novella and novel using the metaphor of short stories or novellas as herbaceous plants  - only lasts 1-2 years, shorter, more colorful plants, and “projects a specific feel.” Novels are Perennials, wood stemmed plants (oak trees and rose bushes), as they are tougher, taller and can handle more complex, longer plot points, and more sophisticated characters.  Novels are worthy of more commitment from the reader, both in time and feelings for well-developed characters, and intrigue in the story (“I just can’t put this book down”). Even Chapter 8, “Mega Farming – the Book Series” seems a bit more graspable for a writer like me.


He includes inspirational selections such as Heinlein’s Five Rules of Writing, as well as his favorite editor’s information, and as any good writer who is concerned about his audience, asks his readers to connect him on twitter, Facebook, his blog or website.  This ties back to his section, “Pray for Bees.”  Bees are feedback, and without the bees sharing and pollinating the word, the world would be gray and devoid of stories.  Start planting your story today.


C. Darby, Poet and Graduate Student in Creative Writing